A tale of animal cruelty and human compassion in Manatee County

January 12, 2013 

The ongoing story of Axel the severely injured pit bull mix continues to amaze. The happy-go-lucky dog galvanized Manatee County's animal community as well as others horrified by his injuries but awestruck by his tail-wagging response to those who came to his immediate aid.

Struck in the head with a blunt object so badly his skull was fractured, Axel seemingly shrugged off his injuries. The two-inch-deep gash damaged his sinus cavity but not his brain.

The reaction from the community is inspiring.

Found bleeding profusely on Nov. 26 by Manatee County Animal Services Officer Steve Bell, Axel required 42 stitches and other treatment from Dr. Luke Berglund and the staff at Beach Veterinary Clinic.

They bonded with the sociable 2-year-old red-and-white pit bull mix during his weeks-long recovery. Who wouldn't?

Axel's story spread well beyond Manatee County thanks to Sue Kolze of the Animal Network and Sheri Clinard, co-owner of Lucky Dogs restaurant in downtown Bradenton and a longtime animal rescue volunteer.

Together at the restaurant, the two were informed of Alex's condition soon after his arrival at the clinic. They alerted some other women and launched a network to spread the news, creating a Facebook page called Axel's Angels.

Axel enjoyed a coming-out party last week, first stopping at Lucky Dogs to greet a crowd of more than 30 well-wishers and meet his new foster care-giver, Trisha Robinson Antonelli, a dog trainer and pit bull lover. Those two then went to Animal Services' Palmetto shelter for Axel's first press conference, where a bank of TV news crews got footage and interviews for broadcast throughout the Tampa Bay region.

Axel is a star.

Animal Services will now take great care in selecting a permanent home for Axel.

Our hat's off to all the Manatee County people and others committed to the health and welfare of animals who are key parts of Axel's remarkable story -- yet to be fully written.

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